The Buzz: Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression in Pregnant Women
Written by Alexis George
October 20, 2020
What is vitamin D? Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin naturally present in some of the foods that we eat, but a majority of our vitamin D absorption is through the sun. When ultraviolet (UV) rays strike our skin they trigger vitamin D synthesis in our bodies. It is difficult to obtain the necessary amounts of vitamin D through food alone and this is why 40% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D (Parva et al., 2018). This number is significant because the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can negatively affect individuals daily lives. The recommended daily allowances for vitamin D are as follows:
Vitamin D Deficiency
The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can contribute to significant discomfort in one's daily life. Vitamin D can affect immune function and energy levels.
What is contributing to the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the United States?
Each of the factors listed above contributes to the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the United States. As individuals age it becomes more difficult for them to absorb vitamins and minerals. Higher melanin content in the skins makes it difficult for individuals to absorb vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Education influences vitamin D levels, as many individuals are not made aware of the negative effects of vitamin D deficiency and as a result do not take the necessary supplements, or realize they are deficient.
So how does vitamin D relate to depression?
Literature has shown that vitamin D plays a significant role in antenatal and postpartum depression. In a literature review of over 14 different studies surrounding the relationship of vitamin D deficiency with perinatal depression, researchers found that a majority of the literature showcases a significant relationship (Aghajafari et al., 2018). This means that women who are deficient in vitamin D are significantly more likely to have depressive symptoms during their pregnancy and after their pregnancy.
Research has shown that pregnant women who take 2000 IU of vitamin D3 per day are significantly less likely to have depressive symptoms during and after their pregnancies (Vaziri et al., 2016).
Signs of depression during pregnancy may include:
Signs of depression after pregnancy (postpartum depression) may include:
If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, or you have further questions do not hesitate to call your doctor or call the National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center at:
So How Can You Obtain More Vitamin D?
Vitamin D3 is the specific version of vitamin D that many individuals are deficient in. Try adding some of these high D3 items into your diet:
Fish (any fish you enjoy, but salmon has the highest concentration)
Dairy products (cheese, milk and yogurt)
Non-dairy milk (soy, almond, and those fortified with vitamin D)
Check the labels on your favorite cereal brands as well! Many cereals are fortified with vitamin D (health.gov, 2020).
If none of these dietary options sound appealing, talk to your doctor about adding a vitamin D3 supplement into your daily routine.